Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 2, 2014

Durbin church retires $75,000 worth of debt

Mark Maynard
The Independent

CATLETTSBURG — Dr. John Lewis, the pastor of Durbin Independent Baptist Church since July, has seen blessing after blessing since ariving.

The church was started in August, had a new steeple erected in September, was chartered in October and had $75,000 worth of debt retired at a special New Year’s Eve service.

Lewis said he stands truly amazed at all that’s transpired at the new church.

“You’re not supposed to be surprised, but we were,” Lewis said. “We had enough money given at the year end to pay off the note.”

The church purchased the former Durbin Nazarene building at 7212 Durbin Road in the summer. Then members went looking for a pastor and found Lewis, who has been in the ministry for 39 years.

“It’s a group of people who believe like we did and they wanted to build a work,” he said. “They’ve been having services without a pastor in homes and wherever they could meet. Then they decided to buy this building.”

Lewis said it wasn’t a split from another church, but a brand-new venture. He also said the church wasn’t just his ministry.

“We’re not here to maintain, we’re here to grow,” he said. “I’m sure there’s lots of folks tucked away in those hollers. It’s been my history to take a church downcast or that has been through hard times.

“But this is exciting because we are starting from scratch, even writing the constitution and articles of faith. We bought a house right down the road.”

Lewis and his wife, Vickie, are originally from the Portsmouth area. They have four grown children.

He accepted the pastorate of the church understanding there was work to be done. The church runs about 50 members currently, he said.

“We’ve tried to make the base really strong and we’re trying to get people grounded,” he said. “A lot of people try to start the year off in the black and get things tidied up. We weren’t that concerned about it but it was a surprise to be able to pay off the note. We had been trying to figure out a way to get it refinanced.”

The church had a note-burning ceremony on New Year’s Eve and look forward to getting into more ministry projects in 2014, he said. They are also looking at purchasing some adjacent property.

Back in September, the church added a steeple on a drizzly Saturday morning. It was a symbol that the newest church in the small community was open for business. They also spent $50,000 on new roofs and other fixups around the property.

“This is going to be a great work here,” said Steve Opell, a trustee, in September. “I think we’re blessed to have him (the new pastor). Everything is going forward the way it should be.”

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.